“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can on it.” – Danny Kaye

This time last week I was in Phoenix at the 12th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. For me, it was an honor and privilege to be there as a speaker for the fifth time. Woot, woot!

Aside from a well-received panel, a few other highlights for me include: The 1:1 conversation between Ann Fudge and Ursula Burns (my business idols!); the TED-like talk by Debbie Dyson of ADP about leadership in a new world order (can I say game-changer?!); oh, and being with 900+ women, for four days, from all over the country converging to talk about business, money and life. To learn, grow, network and support one another.

These women epitomized my message to the world that women don’t need to be saved!

All week I’ve been gushing about my Summit experience and trying to figure out what made this year’s conference so special; what made it stand out from the others I’ve attended. I’m sure my observations and a-has will evolve as more time passes, but here’s my answer as I write…

On display were 900+ examples of what power, influence and wealth look like.

Talk about challenging the misconception that there’s just one way to be powerful and influential. Or, that you’re only wealthy if you’re multi-millionaire or billionaire…

Whether from the stage, or during conversations over a meal, or a casual encounter between sessions, if you listened closely, you heard both what was said and what wasn’t as people described what they do and what motivated them to attend the Summit.

You heard about the risks taken.

You heard about the relationships that were instrumental to someone’s success and growth.

You heard about the head-down work that was done to get them this far and that will certainly forge them ahead.

You heard about the challenges, as well as what lights them up.

Read between the lines and you heard how all of this added up to the dreams and goals that were fulfilled, as well as the ones that have been stalled or abandoned.

Mindset, nuance & the dots

Regardless of how fit you are, exercise can push all the “right” buttons. It can either reinforce how strong you are, or not. It can remind you of the degree to which you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, or not. It can reveal the degree to which you let others support you, or that you are supportive of others.

So, I really shouldn’t be all that surprised that the workout class taught by celebrity, wellness and fitness coach, AJ Johnson, made me and others do more than sweat.

Here’s what I mean:

Pause and get anchored

AJ’s workout focused on kick-boxing movements. If you’ve ever taken such a class you know that when you switch from a forward kick to a side kick, you need to pause and plant your supporting foot firmly on the ground. The pause is just for a couple of seconds, but if you don’t take the time to do it you are not centered and your side-kick will not be high or strong and powerful.

Dig deeper

As you may know, I’m a runner. I run outside year-round. So, I thought I had strong legs. Well, she had us doing these squats that had my thighs trembling! I discovered a new threshold of resistance and pain. Why? Because she kept saying go deeper – aka go lower. Her point was that if you’re not trembling, you’re not digging deep enough.

There are no lighting strike moments

AJ’s class exemplified a point the author of “The Language of Creativity,” Larry Robertson, made in his recent podcast interview with Charlie Gilkey on Charlie’s “Creative Giant Show.” Whether you’re talking about creativity (as Charlie and Larry were), or power, influence and wealth, it is never the result of just one big move…or risk…or relationship. It’s always the culmination of a lot of “little” moves, risks and relationships that happen over the course of time.

In an odd way, the kick-boxing class was a visual and physical metaphor for this: stop looking for that “one” thing that you believe will be your tipping point. Said differently, stop searching for that single tool or answer that hope will solve your problems and make all your dreams come true.

The class also perfectly illustrated how in order to take good calculated risks, you need to pause and make sure you’re decision-making process is grounded. Yes, seize opportunities, but don’t be hasty.

And in terms of digging deeper, well that is all about challenging the self-perception you have about your limitations and your capacity. Usually, you discover these in the context of others, not from a comparison/competition standpoint. But from a what’s possible standpoint. Therefore, you need to have the right relationships that both challenge you and give you a chance to fail your way to success.

Our hashtag during the conference was most appropriate — #iseeyou. How wonderful to know that someone sees you and has your back. Sometimes, that is just the fuel you need to carry you forward for those moments when you feel alone, invisible and undervalued – whether at home, at work, or in the world at large.

Sometimes, that is just the reminder you need that you don’t have to wait on anybody to give you power, influence and/or wealth. You can create all of this yourself and can have it look however you want it to look. That’s the beautiful truth about power, influence and wealth.

So, don’t abdicate whatcha got. Make sure you intentionally do something everyday to amplify it!

And may you choose to do it by painting on the big, beautiful and colorful canvas called life!


p.s. Got a side-hustle? Whether you plan to make it your main gig or not, you want to make sure your financial game-plan is viable, right? Then join us for the next The Comfort Circle™ dinner on March 29th at 6:30pm in Manhattan (midtown).​ Because that’s the theme! Click here to RSVP by March 23rd.

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